Saturday, June 3, 2017

After action report: Hypothetical 1807 scrum in Poland

After action report for a hypothetical 1807 battle in Poland

The group fought a large battle the other night using the latest rev of the rules.  Recent changes make the game a bit bloodier, and remove a lot of extra die rolling from the game.  I think this made it play a bit more quickly.

The scenario also had eight commands (four French, four Russian), and each command had its own Leader and deck of cards.  Leaders could only activate Officers and Units within their own starting forces, and could only play cards on those same troops, or enemy troops within 12".  This made for faster gameplay since it eliminated "defensive action by committee" decisions each turn.  I think we'll keep working the system this way.

The scenario featured a single major road running the length of the table.  At one end was a division of militia (Russian 2nd) holding a town protecting a river crossing.  Approaching the town were a pair of good quality French corps (I and II).  Flanking the French for a pincer movement were a large Russian division on one side (4th), and two large Russian divisions (3rd and 5th) on the other side.  The French started with a 3-star Leader for the I and II Corps.  The Russians started with a 2-star leader for the 3rd and 5th Divisions, and a second 2-star leader for the 4th Division.

A view from one corner of the table.  The Russians 2nd Division (militia) guard a river crossing the French are trying to seize.

Birds'-eye view of the Russian 2nd Division. 
The Russian 4th Division.  Hidden by a thick morning mist and a field of wheat.  The French I and II Corps are in the distance on the upper left.  This is one of two of the at-start Russian commands with a Leader.

The Russian 5th Division.  Very green.  This is one half of the second Russian at-start commands with a Leader.  This command is across the table from the other Russian command, forming a pincer to crush the French I and II Corps. 
The Russian 3rd Division.  The other half of the command.

Birds'-eye view of the soon-to-be beleaguered at-start French command.

At the start of the game I told the Russian players (privately) that the Russian 1st (Guards) Division would appear on turn 2 next to the Russian 2nd Division.  A Leader who also appear, commanding both the 1st and 2nd Divisions.  This would give the Russians a 3-to-1 advantage in Leaders for a short time.  I also told the Russians that a strong 4th command would appear a the far end of the table to attempt a complete envelopment of the French.  The Russians also knew that the French would have four commands, but only one started on the table.

Separately and privately I told the French players that they would receive some additional troops (previously hidden by fog) near the on-table forces, adding about 33% extra forces, and surprising the Russians.  I also told them that they'd have a substantial force on the table, but closer to the far-end, and then two final commands entering from the far-end.

The Results

Reports were pretty positive, both on the most recent rules changes (reflect in v0.9) and on the scenario.  In general I think hypotheticals often work better than historical scenarios since there isn't any historical baggage, and the GM can leave things unknown to the players, just as real world commanders would lack complete knowledge.

French Losses

Command #1:  I and II Corps
24,000 infantry
1,980 cavalry
8 batteries
1 officer
1 leader

The I and II Corps faced almost total annihilation.  Only one corps commander (officer) and four batteries survived.  This was not totally unexpected since this command started in a precarious position and was outmanned and outgunned considerably.

501 victory points awarded to the Russians

Command #2: Reserve Corps and Cavalry Reserve Corps
2,340 cavalry
2 batteries

The Reserve Corps consisted of converged grenadiers, and the Cavalry Reserve was a mix of medium and heavy cavalry.  Moderate losses.  These were placed near the middle of the tabletop on turn 2.

46 victory points awarded to the Russians

Command #3: Guard Corps and Polish Corps
6,800 infantry
2,520 cavalry

This was a mix of excellent troops and plain regulars.  Moderate losses.  This was one of two commands that entered from one of the two roads at the far end of the table.

30 victory points awarded to the Russians

Command #4: III Corps and Heavy Cavalry Division
1,600 infantry
1,620 cavalry

This was a regular French corps plus two heavy cavalry brigades.  Light losses, no units destroyed. This was one of two commands that entered from one of the two roads at the far end of the table.

0 victory points awarded to the Russians

33,000 infantry
8,640 cavalry
10 batteries
1 officer
1 leader

Total Russian victory points: 577

Russian Losses

Command #1: 1st and 2nd Divisions
1,200 infantry
1,440 cavalry
4 batteries
1 officer (1st Division CO)

The 2nd Division (Militia) started on the table, but the 1st Division (Guard) was placed on turn 2.  This small command played a key role in the destruction of the French I and II Corps.  But they did lose a Guard HC brigade in the process.

80 victory points awarded to the French

Command #2: 3rd and 5th Divisions
25,600 infantry
900 cavalry
6 batteries

This was the hammer of the Russian onslaught on the French I and II Corps.  This command inflicted heavy casualties, but was severely mauled in the process.  In the end only a line of artillery was there to hold off the French RES and CR.

234 victory points awarded to the French

Command #3: 4th Division
400 infantry
1,260 cavalry
2 batteries

This was the anvil.  Light casualties.  Other than an early ill-advised charge that destroyed a cavalry brigade, was spared most of the carnage of the battle.

33 victory points awarded to the French

Command #4: 7th, 8th, and 9th Divisions
33,600 infantry
3,960 cavalry
4 batteries
1 officer

This command was placed on turn 3 and faced a difficult decision: engage the newly placed French RES and CR formations to keep them from helping I and II Corps, or to organize a defense for the expected (rightfully so) French commands entering behind them?  In the end the command had little choice but to face the arriving French formations.  While the command had numbers, it lacked overall quality and the single two-star Leader was overmatched by two three-star French Leaders.  This unhappy command was nearly destroyed.

473 victory points awarded to the French

60,800 infantry
7,560 cavalry
16 batteries
2 officers

Total French victory points: 820

This was a victory.... for someone.  Grim Death?

The French win on points, but lost two entire Corps that were trapped, and relief could not get to them in time.  The Russians succeeded in pinching off the French salient in Poland, but the cost was too high.